[Tweeters] Trip report for last weekend's WOS trip to the Okanogan and Waterville Plateau

Stefan Schlick greenfant at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 19 11:37:24 PST 2016

This year's WOS trip to the Okanogan and the Waterville Plateau found many good birds. The highlight is probably that we saw White-winged Crossbill in 3 different locations this trip. Thanks to all participants for the excellent spotting and all the other birders around providing tips on where to find what.
Last Saturday took us to the Okanogan Highlands. We immediately found several flocks of Gray Partridge coming up Havilah Rd. Pretty much every farm had their flock of partridge, all out in the open in the snow. At the Nealey Rd feeders, a Merlin was terrorizing the Gray-crowned Rosy-finch flock. Along Mary Ann Creek Rd, we found 2 Pine Grosbeaks and 2 flocks of Common Redpolls (25 and 50). More partridges were along Chesaw Rd. In downtown Chesaw we found Wild Turkeys and a female-type White-winged Crossbill tucked into a small spruce. 6 more White-winged Crossbills including 3 males were at the Chesaw cemetery and we again got excellent looks. Along Myers Creek Rd we watched 2 Rocky Mountain Elk scuttle up the other side of the drainage (very rare in the Highlands). 2 Merlins (!), 3 Golden Eagles and 4 Pygmy Owls in various places provided lots of joy to everybody. Even our yearly dip for Great Gray Owl at the Highlands Sno-park at dusk was fun.
Our first interesting birds on Sunday were 2 Brown-headed Cowbirds in a cow pasture along Conconully Rd. About 1/3mi into Happy Hill Rd, we found 4 perched-up Sharp-tailed Grouse in a drainage uphill. They ended up flying across Conconully Rd. More Gray Partridges everywhere ... In Conconully proper, we tracked down a single Common Redpoll in a willow. Ed Kane alerted us to a flock of about 8 White-winged Crossbills, which we watched for several minutes. Many Varied Thrushes were feeding on the remaining apples, a Townsend's Solitaire was nearby as well. Also delightful were great looks at type 3 Red Crossbills working on small spruce cones. This was after seeing type 2 Red Crossbills just a few minutes earlier just outside of town in ponderosa pines.
A Northern Sawwhet-Owl at Bridgeport State Park was easily found early afternoon. 125 Bohemian Waxwings were along Cranes Rd, just before it turns into Central Ferry Canyon Rd. We followed a very rare Peregrine Falcon flowing "downriver" at the same spot. With light winding down, Randy Hill found a Tufted Duck x scaup hybrid in a scaup raft off the Brewster waterfront (still Douglas Co).
Yesterday was very slow for most of the day. We started with Red Crossbill, Pygmy Nuthatch and White-headed Woodpecker along Cameron Lake Rd. The south end of road was socked in and we did not drive into Timentwa Rd (where the Snow Buntings were reported from). Gray Partridges were scattered around several places, including at the rest rooms en route to Bridgeport SP (Half Sun Rd). I don't normally see them along the river.
We spent a solid 2 hours on the Waterville Plateau, but that was way too little time and it turned foggy soon after we got up there. We only had more Gray Partridges and a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk. No sign of either the Snowy Owl or the Gyrfalcon on Division. After most folks left we got a Prairie Falcon along Dyer Hill Rd and 11 Sharp-tailed Grouse were feeding right next to the road at the upper Sharp-tailed Grouse area along Bridgeport Hill Rd. 5 Chukar were in/near a Mountain Ash at the airplane in Brewster, a long ways away from their typical cliff side habitat.
Note that Hwy 2 between Orondo and Waterville is currently closed due to a rockslide.
Stefan SchlickHillsboro, OR

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